YALE-PRINCETON | The tailgate that matters

Most Yalies still agree that “Harvard sucks.” But some may be casting aside the old adage “Princeton doesn’t matter” — at least as far as tailgating is concerned.

In light of stricter tailgating regulations at Harvard and the convenience of a home turf advantage this weekend, many Yale students say they are directing more attention toward Saturday’s game against Princeton than The Game next weekend. But it is not clear whether students at Princeton — which has already been statistically eliminated from contention for the Ivy League title — share in their enthusiasm.

Because of Harvard's tight regulations, many students are focusing their attention on this weekend's tailgate, rather than that at The Game.
Because of Harvard's tight regulations, many students are focusing their attention on this weekend's tailgate, rather than that at The Game.

The Yale-Princeton rivalry is a storied one, with Saturday’s game marking the 131st meeting between the two schools, the second-most of any match-up in college football history. But the game has received an extra boost this year because Harvard’s new tailgate restrictions have preemptively cast a shadow over The Game.

Anna Aleksandrova ’10, a member of Davenport’s Student Activities Committee, said she has noticed a lack of excitement around the Harvard-Yale game since tight tailgate restrictions were put into place at The Game in 2006.

“I remember the first year Harvard instituted the Draconian rules, so to speak,” Alexandrova said. “It kind of deafened the spirit. It doesn’t make sense to go all the way up to Harvard, pay 15 dollars for a ticket and not have a good time.”

Other Yalies say that their newfound focus on Princeton is only a result of convenience, not a lack of Harvard rivalry.

“From what I remember last year, the Princeton game wasn’t really that big of a deal,” Daniel Esannson ’11 said. “I definitely think there is a greater effort this year because we have the chance to enjoy ourselves to the fullest extent on our home turf.”

The proximity of the Yale Bowl to campus makes things easier for organizers, too. Bobby Gibbs ’10, the co-chairman of the Jonathan Edwards College Student Activities Committee, said the real problem with organizing the Harvard-Yale tailgate lies in the logistical difficulty of organizing an event to be held 135 miles away.

“We are able to offer more at our Princeton tailgate because it is in New Haven and easier to transport things like hot foods,” he said.

But what makes Saturday’s game appealing for students — its location — appears to be a significant deterrent for Elis’ Princeton counterparts. Seven out nine Princeton students interviewed said they are too busy with work to take the bus to New Haven for the game.

Perhaps this is because Princeton’s real rival is Penn. Princeton typically holds a celebratory bonfire in years that the football team beats both Yale and Harvard, so the Quakers are not all that matter. But Princeton already lost to Harvard, so a potential bonfire does not stand as an incentive in luring Princeton students to make the trek to New Haven, said Mike Weinberg, a member of Princeton’s student government who organized transportation for students to New Haven.

Turnout on Saturday among Princeton students is expected to be modest. As of Thursday, Weinberg said Princeton planned to send only one bus of students to the game. That’s a departure from two years ago, when busloads of students headed north to the Elm City.

In other words, to Princeton, Yale sometimes matters — just not this year.

“It’s more of a case-by-case basis,” Princeton freshman Cami Kaluarai said.

Courtney Pannell contributed reporting.


  • Pretty Much

    THE GAME will always be Harvard-Yale, it's the oldest and best football rivalry in history and we should keep it that way even as Harvard becomes progressively wacker.

  • gross

    penn is NOT princeton's rival

  • Anonymous

    saying that penn is princeton's rival just because of their location is like saying that Brown and Yale, or Brown and Harvard should be rivals--neither of which is the case.

  • Record low attendence at the Yale-Princeton ga

    ATTENDANCE: 5,711

  • lolydn

    "7 out of 9 students"

    good job - you have a +/- 30% confidence interval.

  • Anonymous

    Yale is Harvard's rival, but Harvard isn't Yale's.

  • Anonymous

    #4: Pouring rain up to the start of the game tends to decrease attendance.

  • Hmm

    My understanding is that Penn and Princeton are traditional rivals in much the same way that Harvard and Yale are traditional rivals. I don't think the YDN made this assertion just because of their location.

  • Recent Alum

    #6: I think you meant to say Harvard is Yale's rival, but Yale isn't Harvard's. In any case, I think that both schools are each other's rivals; it's just that Yalies take the rivalry a bit more seriously.

  • BG

    Brown is The Game for Harvard alumni

    By Julian Benbow
    Globe Staff / September 28, 2008
    Email|Print|Single Page|Yahoo! Buzz|ShareThis Text size – +
    The night before the Harvard football team opened its season against Holy Cross, team captain Matt Curtis went with his coach, Tim Murphy, to a dinner with alumni at Dillon Fieldhouse.

    They call it the huddle. They have one Thursday nights before every home game, and generally the room is flooded with Harvard grads.

    "They were all class of 1960, 1965," said the Lynn English graduate. "And they're all coming up to me asking, 'What Ivy League team do you not like?' "

    As captain of the Crimson, Curtis was tapped along with Yale captain Bobby Abare to throw out the first pitch at Fenway in honor of the storied rivalry, so that only makes sense.

    But most of the alums he talked to had a different answer.


    And even though the Holy Cross game was the next day, everyone in the room wanted the captain of the Crimson to, "Make sure you beat Brown, make sure you beat Brown."

    "This was my first time interacting with these alumni at one of these dinners," Curtis said. "And they were pumped up about [Brown] two weeks before we were playing them."

    Harvard's rivalry with Yale stretches back 125 years, but the rivalry with Brown runs about 45 miles.

    "The alumni," explained the 6-foot-2-inch, 295-pound defensive tackle. "A lot of them work in Boston, a lot of Brown alumni work in Boston."

    When the two schools met yesterday, it was for regional bragging rights, and as the Crimson's first Ivy League game of the season, it's always the tone setter. Harvard came into the season as the Ivy League's top ranked team in the preseason poll. Brown was two spots behind.

    "Since I've been here," Curtis said, "the Brown game has always been a huge game. Brown has always been a very tough, very physical team. It's the first Ivy League game for a lot of teams and it dictates how our season's going to go. It's tough having a game that early on that's so important to your season."

    In Curtis's freshman season, Harvard beat Brown in double-overtime and Brown managed to bounce back and win the league. Last season, Harvard won by a touchdown late and went on to win the league.

    "To win a game like that, it really helped us with the momentum and the ability to close games out," Curtis said. "Which I think we did better as the season went on."

    Rivalry aside, just being at that alumni dinner was big for Curtis, who grew up in Lynn. It allowed him to see everything he's learned at Harvard through Lynn-colored lenses.

    "It's really been truly a blessing to come from where I have, to be able to see things from an inner-city, working-class city point of view," he said.

    "To come to a school like Harvard and be able to rub elbows with politician's sons and sons and daughters of CEOs and to be able to meet the CEOs of companies is amazing."

  • Nice try

    Princeton is Penn's arch-rival. The latter makes tht clear in many ways. Historically, Penn is not Princeton's top rival except in men's baskketball. The humor and friendly jabbing by YDN writers is fun to read, but the "unimportance" of the Princeton rivalry in football is contradicted by the obsessive pre-game coverage it carries on the contest.

  • Alum

    The "crowd" at the Yale-Princeton game last week: 5,711.